Wednesday, March 3, 2021
‘Kindred’ Aims to Start Conversation About Systemic Racism
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Wednesday, January 27, 2021
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Community Library interns will hand out goodie bags today to kick off the library’s 2021 community-wide Winter Read of Octavia E. Butler’s “Kindred.”

The interns, who include Asia Angel, Grace Rogers and Charlotte Osgood and Isabelle Thomson, will hand out bags containing information about the Winter Read, a treat and interactive materials for families from 4 to 5 p.m. during a drive through on 4th Street outside the library. Some bags will also include a copy of “Kindred.”

Following the giveaway, interns Cline Dolson, Melanie Gonzalez-Maza, Diana Munoz and Kaia Wolfrom will introduce the project via the library’s Livestream at www.livestream.com/comlib.  They will also talk about art and writing contests that community members of any age can participate in.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The giveaway has been postponed to 4 to 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1, due to the snow. But the Livestream will continue on Thursday.

 The novel, which Butler considered a "grim fantasy," tells the story of Dana Franklin, a young Black woman living in 1970s Los Angeles who is suddenly and mysteriously transported to a plantation in pre-Civil War Maryland.

Over time she navigates the alternating and frightening realities of being a Black woman in 20th century America and a Black woman in the antebellum South. The novel, and its 2017 graphic novel adaptation by John Jennings and Damian Duffy, examines slavery through the lens of a contemporary figure, explores themes of social power and hierarchy, and asks readers to consider racism through multiple perspectives across time.

Martha Williams, the library's programs director, said the book was chosen because of the Black Lives Matter protests and other events over the past summer that showed that a reckoning with our nation's past is "sorely needed."

“At the center of much of this is a growing understanding of systemic racism--its roots in slavery, its effect on marginalized communities and the damage it does to our society as a whole,” she said. “There have long been many voices telling us that change is needed, and 2020 has brought new and vigorous attention to the inequalities that affect us all but which affect marginalized communities in particularly alarming ways. As we move into 2021, we hope to keep the energy of this nation-wide conversation going in Central Idaho in support of lasting, transformational change.”

 Organizers considered several voices of color, including James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, John Lewis and Zora Neale Hurston, Williams said.

 “We landed on Octavia E. Butler, a Black science fiction writer whose work spanned the 1970s to early 2000s, because of her unique place in the literary canon. Butler, known well in the speculative and science fiction worlds but to a lesser degree in popular literature, advanced in her work ideas of social justice and equality. She created worlds that had Black people, and specifically Black women, at their centers, which was uncommon then, and now.”

 “Kindred” was published in 1979 in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, and explores how race, agency, and hierarchy still play out in ways that are eerily similar to America’s pre-Civil War era, Williams said.

 “Throughout her work Butler explored intergenerational trauma and the emotional and mental scars of slavery, but she also wrote hopefully about a future where multicultural views and perspectives are valued and cherished. Butler paved the way for other writers of color to not only come behind her, but to stand beside her. She built community through literature, forging ahead and creating a community where one had not yet existed. We can learn so much from her endurance, her fortitude, and her imagination, and by listening to her voice we hope to strengthen our own community's inclusion of all people,” said Williams.

 The library will host Zoom discussions, exhibitions and virtual author conversations over Livestream related to the community-wide conversation throughout February and March. Partnering libraries in Hailey, Bellevue and Stanley will also host virtual book discussions over Zoom.

Two poster exhibits examining African American history and racial injustice were unveiled at The Community Library this week and run through April 2.

The first, in the Community Library Foyer, is titled “A Place for All People: Introducing the National Mueum of African American History and Culture.”

Designed by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, it highlights key artifacts, such as the child-size shackles of a slave, the school clothing worn by a little girl on her first day at Little Rock Central High School, Chuck Berry’s Gibson guitar Maybellene and Olympian Carl Lewis’s track shoes, all telling the rich, diverse tory of the African American experience.

The second exhibit is titled “Choosing to Participate.” Created by the educational organization Facing History and ourselves, it presents historical stories that explore the impact of cultural difference and bias. It’s intended to inspire people to think about what it is to be a hero, among other things.

The exhibit is mounted on the exterior of the Library and Gold Mine buildings, and most of it can be viewed from the sidewalk. Two posters are inside the Gold Mine store. The ten posters can be encountered in this nontraditional exhibit space in any order.  The “Choosing to Participate” posters will also be viewable online via The Community Library’s website. 

“Dialogue and conversation about our shared history is more important than ever and we need prompts and encouragement for these essential conversations,” says Mary Tyson, Director of Regional History at the Library. “I hope that seeing these stories will make you want to talk to the person next to you.”

 Upcoming Events:

Tueday, Feb. 2, 6-8 p.m. The Library will screen on its Livestream “(In) Visible portraits,” a feature documentary that shatters the too-often invisible ‘otherizing’ of Black women in America and reclaims the true narrative. The film will be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Oge Egbuonu.

Wednesday, Feb. 10, 6 p.m. Comic artist John Jennings, co-founder of a Black Comic Book Festival in Harlem, and cartoonist and University of Illinois teacher on computers and culture and social media and global change Damian Duffy will discuss their collaboration on the “Kindred” graphic novel.

Wednesday, Feb. 17, 6 p.m. Jenny Emery Davison will hold a conversation with Lynell George, award-winning author of the book, “A Handful of Earth, A Handful of sky: the World of Octavia E. Butler.”

Thursday, March 4, 6 p.m. Nisi Shawl, award-winning author, will talk with Martha Williams and intern Isabelle Thomson about Octavia E. Butler.

The participating libraries will also host book discussions on "Kindred" over Zoom that all are welcome to participate in. The Stanley Community Library will host a discussion on Tuesday, February 23 at 5:30 p.m., led by Library Director Jane Somerville. The Hailey Public Library will host on Thursday, February 25 at 5:30 p.m., led by Programs and Engagement Coordinator Kristin Fletcher and intern Asia Angel. The Bellevue Public Library will host on Monday, March 1 at 5:30 p.m., led by Library Director Kristin Gearhart and intern Charlotte Osgood. For those interested in discussing the graphic novel, The Community Library will host a discussion on Sunday, March 7 at 5:30 p.m., led by interns Kaia Wolfrom and Grace Rogers.

 The Community Library’s Executive Director, Jenny Emery Davidson, will also lead a Winter Book Group to discuss three books about "Race Through Time" on Thursdays from January 21 to February 25 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. over Zoom. Selections include “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave” (Jan. 21 & 28); “Kindred” (Feb. 4 & 11); and Rebecca Skloot’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” (Feb. 18 & 25). The books present a variety of literary styles to consider, and various modes for grappling with issues around race, gender, and identity. 

 The Winter Read project will close with a final event on Friday, March 12. Winners of the art and writing contests will be announced and their prizes unveiled, and the interns will share videos created throughout the project that respond to key themes from "Kindred" and the two SITES exhibits.

"Kindred" may be checked out from libraries In Ketchum, Hailey, Bellevue, Stanley and Fairfield. They are available In Spanish at The Community Library.

For more information, visit www.comlib.org

 

 

 

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